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Kamala Harris, "rising star"

I noticed in the intros there are several Californians. Can you all (and others welcome as well) please share your thoughts on her as potentially the next Democratic frontrunner?

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I love Kamala! I went to her LA Townhall a few months ago - she was amazing and inspirational!

I think her “breaking norms” of being a freshman Senator is where she stands out - instead of seeing this side of her 6 years from now… She had big shoes to fill with Barbara Boxer retiring, which I think she has already lived up to - in her own way, tho.

I think Kamala will for sure be the next female Presidential candidate for the Democrats, however I’m not sure if that will be 2020. (I would love it, but in thinking realistically…I’m not sure yet.)

This is one of my favorite articles about Kamala:


Voted for Kamela, and so far I agree, she’s doing a good job of filling the shoes that Boxer left. Part of me wishes that our senators were Boxer/Harris, but Feinstein has got to retire at some point. But I digress.

i think I really started feeling proud of her at the Comey hearing, who, as the former California AG, actually had some decent things to say.

I honestly am a little sad at the notion of her jumping from the senate to potentially a presidential run in 2020. But she is starting to make a name for herself nationally among progressives. That said, I’m not so sure how viable a female candidate from California is on the national stage in our current political climate.


I like Kamala Harris. She has voted on bills that I would vote for.

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My perception of her, talking to a lot of progressives outside of California…is that she’s being positioned for coronation by party leaders as a “progressive” who can still be controlled by the party (unlike Bernie or Warren). Which, after the last election, is putting a lot of sour taste in people’s mouth even without knowing anything about her. I don’t know a thing about her, but when I read a story that says “party leaders really like her” it immediately puts a bad taste in my mouth.

Whomever the Democratic Party leadership puts forth will be vehemently rejected by the vocal parts of the left. Party leadership just has to get out of their own way, and they aren’t doing that.


From what I’ve gathered by looking into her, she has done some good things, but her motives may be self-serving and dangerous.

A few big negatives that stand out:

A more positive list of her progressive wins:

So, I’d say she’s a mixed bag. I worry about some of her actions being for political gain rather than for progressive reasons, but it has lead to some good developments like the Back on Track remediation program to reduce prison recidivism.


Thanks for opening up discussion about Kamala Harris. I have very good feelings about her, in fact, the day after the election, through eyes swollen with tears, and when I was desperately looking for good news, I mentioned her name as a rising star in the Democratic Party and that she was one reason for hope. But in recent weeks, I’m starting to hear some of the same “coronation” rhetoric and it makes me extremely nervous.

I’m an unapologetic Democrat, and do a lot of work on the grassroots level to engage folks to vote (I’ve been active beyond voting since the fall of 2007). That means helping people know their districts — a lot of people don’t know what districts they live in, whether their state house/senate have a Democratic majority, etc. It means connecting people with who represents them (elected Democrats, in my experience, are very open to communicating with their constituents), when their ballot is coming (I live in Colorado where we have mail-in ballots) and most importantly to vote the whole ballot. This seems like a simple concept, but once people embrace voting the whole ballot, it’s pretty powerful: you start to see how your local county and state representatives are vital to the issues you care about. It also gives you perspective as to how things work nationally. (This is why Indivisible was so effective on the federal level) Once you care about who represents you locally, there is no way you’re not going to vote in every election — General, midterm, city council, etc. And when 90 million people did not vote last year, you can see why this is so important.

When I read articles about Harris questioning her progressivism, I start to feel the same way I did in the winter of 2015, where I started to hear from people who aren’t consistently active tell me that I “had no idea what was at stake” because I wasn’t immediately supporting Bernie. At the time we had 3 progressive candidates, O’Malley, Sanders and Clinton — a fraction of any one of them would be infinitely better than the shitshow we’re in right now.

I think it’s perfectly fine to question what Harris has done or not done. The problem is, the people who question her — and will continue to do so in the months ahead — never do so in the context of what people can actually DO about it, and in a pragmatic overall view of what is really at stake. There are people in California that ELECTED Kamala Harris. I live in Colorado, I can’t affect what those voters vote for, or even if they could have found someone more progressive. But I trust that she earned their support.

The thing to remember when you start to hear criticism of Harris is to ask yourself, what is the person criticizing her motivated by? (there is a tendency to hate Democratic Party leadership out of hand, without any real understanding of how much that leadership actually effects the grassroots faction — the people in the party who aren’t seeking office, but that do the real work.) Also, given that Harris is a woman, is there some sexism motivating the criticism? What is their experience in actually engaging people to get involved? (you don’t engage people by only telling them how corrupt the leadership is, in fact, you unwittingly give other people, who aren’t normally engaged, a reason not to be involved) How much does this person know about your personal, local electeds? (because those are the people you should be supporting, or finding someone better to replace them. Or, if you have good and decent local elected Democrats, those are the ones you are throwing under the bus by “broad brushing” and criticizing a recognized Democrat — with no action stated for people to take.)

Yes, Democratic Leadership on the national level decides where to put resources. But the party works the way democracy works — it is only as robust as the amount of ordinary people being involved. What I witnessed last year was this great and wonderful surge of interest (I was supersite chair at caucus. The previous election with 10 precincts at my site, only 22 people showed up. Last year? 864!) — I was amazed and excited. But pretty soon the majority of what I felt was disrespected. Just because I’d been doing this for a while, it was assumed that I was an “establishment Dem” (a still poorly defined term). Every question charged with distrust or an assumption of corruption. And it was continued through county assembly, state assembly, and now in executive committee meetings for my county party.

I apologize for this long post, but what I’m sensing in the criticism of Kamala Harris appears to be a hingepoint in where our party is headed, and in my opinion, where our nation is headed in regard to the environment, social justice, healthcare, public education, our economy, corporate overreach, etc. Pragmatically speaking — and this will never change — we need Democratic majorities everywhere, on the federal, state and county levels. That is simply the only way progressive change happens. There is much talk about the Democratic Party needing transformation, that the messaging isn’t “strong enough”, etc. That our Senators and Reps have “been there too long”, but they’ve been in the minority since 2010! (because no one showed up to vote in the midterm and we were taken over by the Tea Party, which got us in the mess we are in today.) Just look at the platform, it’s clear where we stand. If anything, I personally think the Democratic Party simply has to do more of what it does right. (We’ve got models that we use here in Boulder County that are incredibly effective. Our turnout last fall was 91%, and there is a saying, “as Boulder County goes, so goes the state.” And it did.)

I suggest to everyone that they seek out their county party — look at their platform. And if they don’t have a platform, get involved in drawing one up. Your county party is where the Precinct Leader construct originates. And that is a direct line to the state and then national party. A lot of county parties, especially in rural areas, have no membership or support. There are precincts all over the country that aren’t represented. But it all starts there. (Thanks for bearing with me on this very long post!)


There is, indeed, a lingering battle for the soul of the Democratic platform, and I do think Kamala represents an extension of that. With all due respect to the very well-thought-out post by Marubi, I think they do not consider several factors that I, at least, find very important.

When Democrats were in power, and had the ability to enact the changes their platform fought for, the victories we claimed came with some very bitter pills. The Affordable Care Act was a plan originally proposed by Republicans, and the public option was cut before it even made it to the battlefront. Obama increased our military interventionism and heavily relied on drone strikes, which have a very poor record of limiting extra casualties. The Patriot Act was extended under the National Defense Authorization Act. Whistleblowers were prosecuted for revealing corruption and criminal behavior. Nothing was done to curb the influence of money in politics after Citizens United.

While we have the worst president in office by far, and while Congress is controlled by a party that believes the free market can solve issues without regulations, and while our freedoms are under attack on every front, there is a danger to trusting that the same politics that engineered the conditions under which this takeover happened will be the ones to defeat it. While we can point to the horrorshow of the administration today and claim that it all could have been avoided if people would open their eyes and vote for the other candidate, that ignores the factors that caused so many to vote for this administration in the first place.

Ensuring the party puts forward the most progressive candidates possible isn’t an attack on the party’s effectiveness. These criticisms from the left are not borne of a will to cede more control to the right. They are an effort to refine our tools. They are a calibration of our instruments.

There definitely does come a time when we need to go with what we have rather than what we could have had, but that isn’t the phase of the cycle is not now. Now is when we need to prepare the best candidates we can, to critically assess what it is we are fighting for. As much as a call for party unity is noble in its intent, if we do not vet our candidates, it will hurt us in the end.

As to Kamala herself, I’m still trying to navigate the waters to find where I stand on her. She has the rhetoric down, but there are some very troubling moments when it comes time for action. I know this won’t really matter to any of you, but a close personal friend of mine shared with me how a close personal friend of hers had direct experience with Kamala. In this story, my friend’s friend was being prosecuted by Kamala for a fight in school, where she was being harassed and assaulted for being trans, and she fought to protect herself. The school administration would not listen to her account, and neither would Kamala, who attempted to disprove that being transgender was even a thing.

I know this is hearsay and a secondhand account, but it does shade my view of her, especially when combined with the above linked story of how she fought to deny an inmate the surgery. To me, she looks like a smart politician who knows when to push and when to pull back to keep herself in the right place. That can be useful, but it also can mean she will not always take the stand for the right case at the right time.

All that said, if there are no better candidates, she has my support. I just think it is very important to ensure we have the best candidate available.

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Before I even knew who she was I was informed that I hate her by Democrats, so my inclination is to tell them they’re right… just not for the reasons they like to cite. If we’re appealing to our past records, I’ve been voting straight-ticket Democrat since I the first election I was old enough to vote in 2000. I will never do that again without careful consideration.

I participated in the 2016 elections at every level, and my participation was belittled, rebuked, and undermined by the party. I am not playing this game anymore. If people within the party want to tell me I hate a candidate because I’m racist/sexist, I am going to scrutinize that candidate and the motivations behind the accusations for the actual reasons they expect me to hate her. At this point, I will never, ever primary for this person. In fact, I wouldn’t go out of my way for anyone on the party’s top ten list of people they think Real Democrats will support. Those I want to see on the ballot the most, not only do I doubt that they’ll be allowed on the ballot, I doubt that even if they managed the popular vote the party would allow them to win the nomination. The party is no longer even pretending to need to take voting into consideration, and they are now open about that. If they don’t like it, they will just pick their favorite by whatever means necessary.

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I wouldn’t at all say that story doesn’t matter. As I’m sure you understand, this particular story doesn’t really give the rest of us a lot to go on when we’re hearing it on an internet forum as a friend-of-a-friend account, but the experiences that people have with the legal system on the human level are very important and deserve to be heard.

If this really involved the DA herself (I’m assuming this has to be from her DA days), it would have been a pretty serious criminal case – I imagine there’d be at least local news coverage. If you can find a link, I think we’d all want to learn about it. I know I would, as a trans supporter of hers.

All I can attest to is what I can see in the public record. That includes the fact that she convened a law enforcement conference on how to combat “trans panic” defenses back in 2006, several years before it would become “cool” or politically “safe” to stand up for us. And that she’s supported by longtime trans activists in California, like Shannon Minter from NCLR who’s been in court for trans rights more than most people.

I think there are a lot of misunderstandings and omissions in the way people talk about the Norsworthy case – and I think it’s weird that Harris gets this kind of focus for being attached to the prison system’s short-lived legal appeal in that case when, for instance, Elizabeth Warren straight-up said as a senate candidate that she didn’t believe taxpayer dollars should pay for inmates’ transition at all, and somehow people don’t bring that up every time Elizabeth Warren’s name is mentioned. It seems like a double standard is in effect there.


How do I feel about my young, charismatic, half-black progressive attorney first-term senator? Same way I felt in 2005 when I lived in Illinois. When the GOP started going after her I got flashbacks to Alan Keyes calling Obama “wicked and evil.” I like her policies, I’m confident in her ability to get things done, and I think she has the polish and charisma to carry a presidential campaign and get voters to turn up at the polls. She certainly doesn’t have a spotless record, but I still think she has the skills and platform to govern well.

As for “coronation,” @ChrisB, I would be shocked if we didn’t see at least 3 of Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, Chris Murphy, Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe, John Bel Edwards, and Roy Cooper throw their hats into the ring. There’s a hefty chunk of party line Dems who would have run in 2016 and decided not to. I think Kamala would wipe the floor with all of them, but who knows. Nobody’s going to declare until 2019, so we can only just wait and see.


BTW, @coastalElite – I :heart: your username!

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Another one to watch is Kirsten Gillebrand Senator from NY. Intelligent, well spoken, hardworking, excellent record, seasoned yet young, law background, speaks her mind and doesn’t back down. Keep your eyes on her!


That’s why I don’t belong to a party, someone telling me how I should think :rage:.

Thank you so much for what you’ve said here, Marubi. It may be a long comment, but I hope people read and consider every word.

As for Kamala, I love her. I’m reluctant to give the latest negative soundbites more airtime by disputing them, but I’ll just mention that she was already fighting for trans rights as SF District Attorney back in the MySpace age.